Topic Selection Reform: What Should Be Changed, and How to Get Involved

Topic Selection Reform: What Should Be Changed, and How to Get Involved
Article by Steven Adler

As I’ve written previously, the NFL is in the process of reforming its topic selection procedure, and there is opportunity for the community to provide feedback. I have spoken with Joe Vaughan, who is chairing the committee, and he has requested that people who wish to influence the process post on this thread, and that he will follow along with the conversation.

Because of this opportunity, I’m hoping that we can have an open conversation about what should be changed in the topic selection procedure. Clearly people must have some gripes, because all three topics this year generated a lot of hostility and negativity on Facebook (although that’s always true to some extent). Given those gripes, it makes sense to air them in a productive fashion so that the process might actually change.

I will begin by just saying two brief things:

First, I don’t think that schools should have to pay to register with the NFL to have a vote in the topic selection process. I understand the NFL’s need to have records of eligible voters so that its elections are fair, but I believe that could be accomplished just as easily by filling out all the requisite registration forms except for the payment.

It doesn’t seem right to me that a small, poorly-funded program might have to choose between sending some students to tournaments, or having a vote in what topic is debated. It also doesn’t seem right to me that a lone-wolf debater who wishes to vote might have to foot his school’s entire fee just for that right. But this problem affects large programs, too: the school for which I coach, Lexington, has chosen to withdraw from the NFL because Nationals coincides with its graduation, and therefore the large cost (because the program is so large) is not worth it. Consequently, Lexington does not have a say in topic selection matters, despite having quite a few debaters.

Second, I think that the topic selection committee should work to enhance transparency in its procedures, both in publishing a list of submitted topics and in publishing the brief write-ups that people submit along with their topics. (I also think that the committee should require people to submit write-ups with topics so that it doesn’t just get a list of 50 topics with no context or background information, but that is an aside.)

My reasons for wanting transparency have nothing to do with mistrusting the committee or anything of that sort. I appreciate all the time and effort they put into choosing topics, particularly that Lexy Green did publish a list of submitted topics during the last discussion, and I don’t mean to disregard their contributions. But at the same time, I feel that more information on the topics should be available to those who wish to take that information into account when voting. For instance, I think a debater should be able to read up on the summary write-ups of the topics, if they so choose, before casting a vote for which they want to debate for two months. I understand that not every debater or coach will take up this opportunity, but I don’t think there’s any harm in allowing it to those who wish to use it.

With that said, I hope that other people will add their feedback as well so that we can develop more of a community consensus. I understand that not everyone will agree with me, but I’m hopeful that collectively we can improve topic selection so that people are happier with it moving forward.

  • I’d personally move to Hawaii and after that travel the globe.

  • There’s really no need to put so much effort into reforming topic selection.  The resolution is almost always irrelevant by the 1AR anyway, and well-worded topics kill core topicality ground.

    • Anonymous

      that seems like more of a symptom of bad topics than a reason to not improve them. if people liked the topics and they were worded better, maybe they’d be more relevant.

    • Anonymous

      Extinction outweighs T and skep because life is a prerequisite to debating and being skeptical about things

  • I’m down for Resolved: Skep affirms. 


    • So what happens if I claim skep doesn’t exist?

      • Mathew Pregasen

        Skepticism about skepticism just triggers inception.

        • Anonymous

          inception is probably a voting issue 

  • Nick Bubb

    This is a substantive response. Can some one please send this to Joe Vaughn?

    1) I wouldn’t want to the National Forensic League to relinquish its control over the topic selection process for Public Forum or Lincoln-Douglas. As the topic author for the 2012-13 policy debate topic, I have been a part of the process that policy debate uses to select its topics. While I think the process and the amount of effort used in policy debate is superior, the structure of the organization that runs the selection process is not. The National Federation is not directly accountable to speech and debate coaches. The National Forensic League is.

    2) Requiring NFL membership to vote might not be the best procedure for ensuring full participation, but there isn’t a sound alternative. As a chapter advisor, I do not think that NFL membership is not terribly expensive – you don’t need to ensure that every speech and debate participant is an NFL member in order to vote. And even if the NFL opened voting up to other members – what would be the benefit of membership to those of us who are willing to pay? One of the many benefits about participating  Frankly, I don’t think that “lone wolf” debaters or even debaters should be allowed to participate in the process. Adult educators should be the ones driving the process – not students. NFL membership is a sound way to guarantee that there are adults are the ones making decisions.

    3) I do think that the NFL should require topic papers for the proposed topics. The papers would then be the vehicle for flushing out the ideas behind a topic suggestion and potential areas of conflict. This would then allow the wording committee to spend all of their time wording the topics carefully.

    • Anonymous

      I agree that the NFL should not hand over control of topic selection. I also agree about the topic papers.

      I respectfully disagree, though, about the issue of membership fees. You are right that schools don’t have to register EVERY member to vote, but there’s still that minimum $100 fee for the squad, which recurs annually. $100 buys entry for many students to many local tournaments in Washington, where I’m from. It also is another hotel stay, hired judge, or rental car fee. There are programs who can’t afford to pay that fee and maximize their involvement in debate, and that’s why I think the fee should not exist for them. I don’t think they should have to choose.

      I think the issue of whether there should be adults involved is separate from whether voting membership should entail a fee. For example, the NFL could just mandate that there be some adult involved, as I presume it does now, without requiring one also pay $100 to vote. You would still fill out registration forms–you just would not have to enclose a check.

      You ask what other benefits there would be to entice people to pay if they could vote for free. I will admit to not being an NFL connoisseur in this regard–perhaps someone else could list others–but here are some off the top of my head:
      – certificate and degree eligibility for students;
      – the opportunity to attend Nationals;
      – funding the NFL’s debate outreach programs;
      – Academic All-American eligibility;
      – scholarships associated with the NFL

      I concede a few programs will probably give up membership if they can vote for free, but I don’t think this drop in revenue would be particularly significant, and I think those programs probably should not have been charged to begin with.

      • Nick Bubb

        I agree that more people should participate in the process, but I think that your position – that voting for the LD/PF topics is tantamount to the franchise in democracy is not a fair comparison and limits the NFL’s ability to change in other important areas (e.g. writing topic papers).

        The NFL is not a government agency of speech and debate in America – it’s a non-profit. The speech and debate community is not entitled to participate in the NFL by virtue of being in speech and debate. It’s a member based organization. NFL currently spends resources (collected from members) in order to get its members to vote on topics, district committees, and national board members. Two of those processes uses the NFL points application – an online web application built and purchased to help facilitate the organization.

        Stating that the NFL should just include everyone, without any way to recuperate the resources they spend on administering such a process is not realistic. Additionally, there are logistical considerations that have to be thought through. How can the NFL verify that the school is real? That the person is really an adult? That the team is really the team? What happens if two people fill out one form for the same school? And how will the NFL let non-member schools into the appropriate areas of the points application?

        Addressing these details requires time and money – why should the NFL have to spend resources administering a more complicated and costly process when schools that want to participate can just join the league? NFL membership solves most of these difficulties.

        • Anonymous

          I’m not sure the distinction you draw between a government and a non-profit is a meaningful one in this instance. In fact, my hunch is that the NFL DOES see itself as a governing body of sorts.
          For example, the NFL does not merely set the topic for its members who have paid dues, but rather sets a topic that binds virtually every LD competition that happens over the course of the season. A round between two non-members at a non-member school will still use the NFL topic. 

          The NFL also has a lot of power in setting ‘rules’ of debate through its ballots, which are a very common medium even at non-NFL tournaments. These ballots explain to the judge the NFL’s vision of LD. (In case you have not seen one, there are literally printed recommendations at the top, such as LD is about values; debaters should argue the general principle; etc).

          You might be right about using the points application to elect Board Members and District Committees, but those are not the point of my discussion. I agree that those are squarely member-processes, and that there might be resources necessary to vote in those elections. Voting for the topic, however, is qualitatively different because it isn’t guiding the future direction of the NFL as an organization, but rather LD everywhere across the country.

          You keep saying that the NFL needs to recuperate its resources, but I really don’t think the marginal cost of topic voting is very high. If it is, I’ve said previously that it would be reasonable for the NFL to charge that marginal cost or the average total cost of holding the voting process to capable members. It could also offer fee waivers for certain programs. Those processes would not lose the NFL money via topic voting.

          I don’t think these concerns about verifying that the school is real or a person is an adult (which I disagree about the requirement for, but that’s an aside that isn’t worth discussing at this time) are unique to this proposal. The NFL always has to make that adjudication of whether a school is real or not. My solution is to have people fill out the same membership forms they otherwise would, except have it be a voting-only membership without filling out a check. There would still be records of information; they just would not be charged 100 dollars. And this process does not use the points application.

          I don’t see any reason this process would be more costly. I’ve also explained why it should take the time to revamp it–because many schools are excluded by the finances and cannot have a voice in the topic selection process. NFL membership does not solve that difficulty because the associated fee IS the difficulty.

          • Nick Bubb

            I guess I’m asking you to think outside of the context of a debate round. You argument has to couched in terms of why opening up the topic process is beneficial for the NFL. If you can’t do that, then the NFL isn’t going to give these suggestions consideration. So far, I don’t see a benefit  to the NFL to allow non-members to participate in the process.

            I think by asserting that the NFL can just charge the “average” or “marginal cost” you are underestimating the actual costs or how this would work in practice. Let’s assume about 500 non NFL member schools want to vote in the process and that it takes about two hours to do all of the processing with each non-member application. Two hours, I think is a reasonable assumption since someone has to verify if the person is an adult, the school is real, and enter all relevant data into a system, and then setup them up with an account, send the individual an email communicating how to do all of this, etc. This means that the NFL needs at least the equivalent of a half-time employee to manage this request and probably some enhancements to its points application. Let’s assume those costs total about $20,000. At 500 schools, the average cost is about $40. That’s not drastically more than the annual membership fee.

            Further, it’s not like the NFL is going to know what it’s average costs are going to be in advance – the average cost will changed based on how many people participate. Using my example above, the NFL could estimate that 200 schools would like to vote. Then the average costs would be $100 – the same fee as the annual membership. Perhaps there only 100 schools. Then the cost is $200 – twice the membership fee.

            I suppose their are probably ways to make this work at a lower per school cost – but I’m still unclear what the NFL’s motivation for doing this would be.

          • Anonymous

            I think appealing to what is good for the NFL is a fair perspective to take on the issue, but I still think that, at minimum, a fee waiver for certain programs would be good. (I disagree about some of the numbers you use to apply MC/ATC, but let’s leave that aside for now do that we can focus in-depth on this element.)

            For one thing, I think allowing a wider scope of schools to interact with the NFL could lead to some deciding they should join. For instance, a school who finds itself on the NFL’s mailing/marketing list could come to the determination that the additional benefits WOULD actually be worth paying an additional $100. Note the distinction here between my claim and the claim that membership is always worth the fee (because I do not think that is): allowing certain programs a lower transaction cost to experience part of the NFL might make them more inclined to join and provide them better information to choose for themselves.

            I think such a move could also provide the NFL large benefits in terms of PR. There has been quite a lot of backlash against the topics this year–far more than in previous years–and I genuinely think that people are frustrated with the system. I cannot say with certainty whether that will spill over into reduced membership figures, but I do know that in many teams it has already caused apathy and a sense of powerlessness in influencing the topic. The leap there isn’t too large.

            I also think that it is more consistent with the NFL’s purpose–to promote high school speech and debate–to reduce barriers to access. I think a $100 membership fee is a significant barrier for some programs, and I thus think that the NFL would do a better job of promoting the voice of students at those programs if it adopted a fee waiver.

  • Chris Castillo

    It’s good to see more Mexican involvement in debate.  

  • Anonymous

    Now that the flame war portion of this thread is over, I’d love to continue discussing topic selection reform. Who has something substantive to add?

  • Anonymous

    Mssr Adler, I am puzzled by your first point, in your opinion why does an extreme policy seem appropriate seem like a feasible solution if registration is a large source of revenue for the NFL? I don’t think you realize that at the end of the day this is an organization that is allowed to set its own rules and by demanding such a radical change that would, as Mr. Wanless pointed out, would lead to a loss of revenue you decrease the possibility of change. Moderate change is always more successful, which is why a policy that allowed schools, when submitting their voting sheet, to also submit a request to have their fees waived in my opinion would be more likely to be adopted. 

    Mr. Wanless also raised a proposal to have fees move incrementally according to the amount of members on a team but I see several problems with this:

    First, due to the fact that club recruitment occurs for most schools, in order to recruit new freshmen, after the time the voting preferences are done, so squad size here not be an accurate measure of those debaters who would actually be affected by the topic. 

    Second, there is no real way to accurately gauge how many members are on a squad unless we have some objective measure to count who is a part of the club, which then appeals to a system like the registration (which outlines what it means to be a member of the club) to give a number, and leads us back to the problem we are trying to solve. The reason an objective system is made is because at the point we are charging per head, teams have an incentive to lie about who is a member, particularly if they are schools with medium numbers, in order to save money.

    Third, squads are composed of more than just debaters, to require a coach to pay 5$ dollars a head even if only a fraction of their squad debates seems like more of a deterrent than a solution. 

    Fourth, I don’t think you account for large squads. Leland high school has 1081 members according to the NFLonline homepage. That would mean they owe $5405 dollars to have a say in topic selection. The issue though is if we try to solve this last problem by setting a cutoff, the most likely of which would be $100 as that is the registration fee, squads will 20 members would already be owing the original membership fee so the change would be essentially useless. Finally the other obstacle to the change is we assume a $5 fee would be something that would be selected, but that is an assumption that isn’t based in any really fact, and as according to Mr. Adler’s assertion that the NFL charges a large amount for these kinds of things, it would make more sense to think it would greater. 

    Now I don’t claim to understand this process greatly or think my proposal is the best, but I do think the tactics employed by Mr. Adler are something we should all be critical off. He has constantly advocated the transparency of the NFL but where is his transparency? Have any of us seen these “conversations” Mr. Adler constantly brings up. I for one haven’t. Actually, when Mr. Adler’s debaters were running positions advocating topic reform, and I requested the disclosure of these positions, my requests were Ignored. If Mr. Adler claims to want to help the community, why does he do so behind a veil? So consider this an official request Mr. Adler to justify why you have yet to be as transparent as you advocate that others be. I am deeply surprised that is actually requires us to make this request of you, as it seems you have no issue being transparent about who is making comments on this thread, even without their approval. Until this very reasonable expectation has been met, you can not count on my support for your movement.PM

    • Anonymous


    • Anonymous

      If you say so.

      • Anonymous

        How big of a douche can you be? Your original message was [(I didn’t read most of this and probably won’t, so I can’t say whether you actually say so.)], as per my disquis email. My feedback is actually constructive and a legitimate question. What makes you think your conduct is acceptable? 

        • Anonymous

          I’m busy. I was probably going to read and substantively respond at some point; now I likely will not. I got a message from someone saying you had posted something snarky and I should just respond briefly. That’s what I did. Calm down.

          • Anonymous

            This is ridiculous Mr. Adler, the point at which you let petty differences get in the way of a larger movement is the point at which you are unfit at trying to lead it.

            Lets be honest, this stems back to a personal dispute between us, if so let me know! But to assume all my posts on threads you initiate are snarky is just downright insulting. 

            Also you’re idea of a quick reply was literally that you had no intention on reading it, how else does one answer when thats your response? 
            Its of no importance to me whether you respond or not, because my opinions are not predicated on the what you feel, and my beliefs are not swayed by you either. But I hope no one else ever is because clearly the only opinions you respect are from those who have sworn allegiance to you. 

            In the real world you Mr. Adler would be the one told to calm down, not me. Its about time you realize that.

          • Anonymous

            Again, If you say so. If you want to discuss the issue, I’m happy to once I’m able to respond. If you wish to keep throwing out ad hominems, I will not.

          • Anonymous

            This is a COMPLETE reversal of what you’ve sad earlier. Yes I want to discuss why, when debaters approached you and the debaters running the “Lexington Solution” as Blake, they were not acknowledged and ignored. 

            Yes I want to talk about change, but only after you can explain yourself.

            As for the ad homs I don’t think anyone can fault me for being a little upset with your dodgy attitude. What does “If you say so” mean? Is it realization that you are in the wrong now?

          • Anonymous

            You are correct–it is a ‘reversal’ from when you called me a douche and I decided it wasn’t worth dignifying your claim. Now I’ve decided to respond to the non-attacking parts.

            Your claim about the Lexington Solution is false; I’m not sure where you heard that. In fact, I (and the debaters) approached people and encouraged conversation. We talked at length with Richard Shmikler, Leah Shapiro, and others. Ask them if you’d like.

            I don’t know what you mean by ‘explain yourself’ and I won’t dignify your personal attacks.

            I explained what ‘if you say so’ meant; someone told me you posted something snarky and that I should just acknowledge it. That’s what I did. It is not a realization that I’m ‘in the wrong,’ although I still don’t really know what you mean.

          • Anonymous

            In terms of your stance on responding to the substance of my first post – something you haven’t had the time to do yet (Yet you have had the time to read over all my posts and post meticulous responses). I thought a former debater of your caliber would at least feign an attempt at owning up to your initial comments. You first posted how you had no intention on even reading my post, not to mention responding to it. That is the reversal I am pinning you. 

            Never did I call the Lexington Solution false, rather what I did say is that I think you are disingenuous to the cause. You have yet to respond to allegations saying you did not refuse ME or ANOTHER debater access to the ACTUAL position. I am all for discussion, but that is not transparency. Your sidestepping will only get you so far. When will you own up to this?
            Fine, don’t dignify my attacks. Victimize yourself in a pathetic attempt to avoid the substance of my feud with you Mr. Adler. My point is this. You need to give us an answer for: 

            1. Why the position has not been disclosed or was disclosed when requested.

            2. Why I have to go to such lengths to get you to read my initial post. I’ve spent the greater part of my evening just trying to get a discusion started, which clearly you don’y want to engage me in because you can’t put aside a childish vendetta against me and the Lius.

          • Anonymous

            I think I’m answering your complaints pretty fairly, and I’m sorry that you don’t think so.

            You keep harping upon my saying I had no intention of reading your post. I edited that out within five seconds of having posted it, because I realized it was harsh. I think reversing from that is fine because it was improper of me; given that, I see no reason to keep claiming it as some horrid sin.

            I have no idea what you’re talking about in not giving you access to the case. I already explained why I did not disclose its full-text; I’ve also given you multiple names with whom I encouraged discussion about the case and what it advocated. I also posted a lengthy article about it ahead of the tournament. I think I was pretty reasonably transparent.

            I have no idea what you’re talking about with putting aside this vendetta. I explained why I hadn’t responded; now I have.

          • Anonymous

            I Will respond to general comments to answer this.

          • Baruch Spinoza

             CHOO CHOO!!


    • Anonymous

      EDIT: Now that I’m back and have actually read the post (as opposed to briefly dismissing it as snarky as my friend recommended), I will respond.

      Let’s start with your personal attack about my not being transparent. You are correct that I did not disclose the full-text of my debaters’ positions against their will; I also would not have objected had they opted to. I’m not sure what your point is here. Nothing I describe about the NFL publishing a list of topics has anything to do with full-text disclosure.

      Despite not disclosing the case’s full-text, I was more than happy to discuss the position with people, tell them exactly what we advocated, give citations for the limited evidence, etc. I’ve listed names below you can follow up with if you really chose to, but they include Richard Shmikler, Leah Shapiro, Megan Nubel (who had a particularly long conversation with me and Paul Zhou), and many others. Ask them if you would like.

      Now let’s talk about the revenue issue.

      I think a fee waiver for certain teams would be a reasonable solution to the problem; I never disagreed with that option. As you’ve noted with your extensive responses, the idea that Charles posted is different than that option, and that’s what I rejected. You are correct that I don’t think there should be ANY cost to vote for certain programs, but I could see where the revenue concerns could come in. If a more moderate solution is necessary to get the NFL to offer fee waivers for those programs, then that’s fine. I just think that going further would be preferable.

      • Anonymous

        As a brief comment, to your initial motive for responding, another friend of yours, actually a mutual friend of ours, asked you to respond to the post to which you answered that you would probably not read it or respond.

        lets follow the same pattern you did. How can not disclosing a position about transparency be at all consistent with the pedagogical underpinnings of what it advocated? When you in this post say its not about mistrust or anything of that nature, rather its the will to increase access to information, place the restriction that debaters must seek out the limited amount of individuals who are running this position in order to learn more. Other obstacles are raised by those who could not attend the tournament, or for an even more select few – the few I think this position meant enfranchise don’t engage on circuit level debate, know who the illustrious Steven the BOAT Adler is, or that this position was being run. I for one know that such a conversation would be nearly impossible due to your inability to get over what someone calls you, be it your FIRST or LAST name. 
        I don’t doubt you told people, but I am wondering why this is the first time I have heard back from my requests for you to disclose. On the initial thread, I, and others raised this point and your responses were inadequate if not all together non-existant. 

        Its the spirit Mr. Adler, not the letter that matters. I am not saying the two are one in the same. Rather the concept of announcing that we should be given more information about topics, yet not giving us direct access to those proposed changes, and instead impose arbitrary hoops such as seeking you out at a tournament, contacting you, etc. seems to reinforce the paradigm you are trying to take down one of exclusive access to these process that we have to beg in order to learn about.

        Then again if my understanding of your position is incorrect, and there is not a contradiction with nondisclosure, please forgive me as I have yet to have access to the position to realize this.Now onto the proposed change I put forward. My change is completely inconsistent than what you advocate because you say later on in this thread that “[You] just don’t think that a membership fee of ANY size should be required to vote.” so while you haven’t disagreed with it, it clearly contradicts what you are advocating, unless of course you’re going to go back and edit those posts in order to seem less inconsistent – somewhat of a trend with your comments. My fault with you Mr. Adler is that if you believe in change you ought to be willing to alter your views, yet clearly you provide no reason why your proposal is superior to the one I’ve put forward and instead assert that yours is better.


        • Anonymous

          Yes, I said I didn’t plan on responding. I’ve been clear about that. It then became clear that your post was only PARTLY personal attacks, not entirely, so I answered the relevant parts.

          I don’t know why you feel the need to keep stooping to personal attacks about my name, who I am, or anything of that sort.

          I don’t particularly recall your asking me to disclose the position, unless you’re the person who asked at Blake (I forget who it was, my apologies), and I told very specifically I wouldn’t disclose my students’ work against their wills. I also offered to explain everything we advocated, the arguments, etc. 

          I also posted an article ahead of time about the position. I answered every Facebook message and email I received about it. I was plenty transparent. And as I’ve noted, this isn’t the same sort of transparency as the NFL. They are completely different. I don’t understand what the issue is here.

          I did give specific access to what changes we proposed; I wrote an article about it and shared it with tons of people with whom I spoke at Blake. I’m sorry if you disagree.

          I just clarified that I don’t think a fee should apply of any size for people who cannot afford it. You’re mincing and misinterpretting my words. I also said I’d be fine with your idea if that’s what it took to achieve change. You keep making these broad accusations about what I’ve said, but you seem to be missing parts of it.

    • Anonymous

      Forget the pleasantries, the gloves are off. You told someone you didn’t care about reading or responding to my post. Sure you might not have posted that, but those were words you typed, and there is documented proof to verify it. The reason I claim it is a horrid harshness is because this forum is about openness, for you to HAVE to change your mind to read a legitimate proposal isn’t OPENNESS in any sense of the word. It just represents the ridiculously hoops I have to jump through in order to have a conversation with you, about anything form the weather to what is good for the community.

      Sure, now you’ve answered my queries, and it will be irresolvable whether you disclosing was the right, or wrong thing to do. In my eyes it is inconsistent, but as long as you can justify your actions so be it. 

      All I have taken from this situation is that some people were not meant to engage in this discourse, and those are the people who feel things should be done differently than how Mr. Adler says they ought to be. I am one of those people and I will no longer be silenced, not by your threats of dis-communication or your perceptions of me.

      This will be my last post on the matter, as I can’t stand the direction this is heading. For those of you wishing to start a dialogue for changing the system I wish you the best of luck, I only hope that Mr. Adler doesn’t hold a grudge against you.

      • Anonymous

        I’m sad that the conversation has devolved this way. I’ve explained why I wasn’t initially going to respond–because you were name-calling. When I realized there was more, I responded. I think I’ve been reasonable.

        I’m sorry you feel I’ve been inconsistent. I disagree.

        I think I’ve been in our ‘discourse.’ I don’t know what you’re referring to in ‘threats of dis-communication or your perceptions of me.’ I have neither threatened your ‘dis-communication,’ nor said anything to you about how I perceive you.

        This thread has nothing to do with grudge-holding. You have hurled a bunch of insults, which I obviously did not enjoy, but I have answered your substantive claims. I also haven’t insulted you back. I am happy to continue engaging with anybody else.

    • You really misunderstand the purpose of my solution.  None of the comments you make are fundamentally contrary to the ambiguous solution I proposed.  Obviously, the logistics of this plan would be far more detailed and likely constructed by the NFL itself.  I wrote such a proposal in hopes of receiving positive, constructive additions or constructive criticism.  Your knit-picking doesn’t do us much good.
      I don’t understand how your first argument matters – the point is to allow for voting, not to be a nazi about how many students are on the team.  Your second point again doesn’t matter because accuracy is not the point.  Also, there is a system, it would be presumably by NFL points (per coach or per student depending on if they’re at an indie school or not).  The third argument doesn’t make sense.  The school with one debater would theoretically be charged $5.  That’s not a lofty fee, and that’s the point.  Finally, there would obviously be a price cap, and the rate would be progressive rather than flat or regressive.  Whatever the fee is now could be the max – i.e. Once a school has 50 members or more they pay the maximum fee and that’s it.  It seemed rather obvious that we weren’t going to charge schools like Leland or Bronx THOUSANDS of dollars.  That’s nonsense.

      Speaking of nonsense, I’m not even going to get into this “I’m some anonymous debater who doesn’t have the courage to actually email or talk to Mr. Adler in person to settle my qualms and will instead do so in the comment section of a webpage because I’m mature enough to behave in such a way” business.

      • Anonymous

        You’re right, I genuinely had no idea what I was talking about.

  • Anonymous

    does anyone even debate the topic anymore? you can run theory and framework on the dumbest of topics.

    • Theory AND framework? Sounds like a NIB.

    • Rebar Niemi


      • Anonymous

        my mistake i meant permissibility and skep triggers

        • Rebar Niemi

          ah yes key skep ground.

  • Also – and if anyone can correct me, please do – does the NFL still select its topics based off of the Pref Ballot per quarter?  (i.e. Whichever topic is preferred most for Nov/Dec becomes Nov/Dec, whichever topic is preferred for Jan/Feb etc.)
    If that’s still the way it’s done, I feel like that ought to change.  Theoretically a topic could be ranked 2nd for every slot (Nov/Dec, Jan/Feb, Mar/Apr, etc.) and never be used in the whole year.  

    Also, I think that some transparency in the results of votes would be nice.  At least a percentage of how much this topic was preferred would be nice.

  • I agree with the second proposal in its entirety, and offer a potential solution for the first issue.
    Assuming that every school in the NFL pays this fee regardless of its size, I can generally conclude that a significant amount of revenue is collected from this measure.  Thus, removing it entirely might cause an expected loss.  Perhaps instead of a uniform fee, the NFL could adjust the fee based on the size of the squad – if it’s $5 for a lone wolf debater, I think that’s doable for anyone.  Then of course the fee could expand based on how many other students there would be.  Say a squad of 30 has to pay $25 or something of the like.  That way the NFL keeps gaining revenue and it is reasonably affordable for all schools.

    As for the issue with Lexington’s graduation problem (and good lord, that’s a late graduation date) that seems like something that should be amended from the NFL’s side.  It seems like there are very few schools who face such a conflict, and if I were on the committee I would certainly favor giving Lexington (as well as others) leniency.

    • Anonymous

      Just to be clear, I’m not saying the NFL shouldn’t be able to raise revenue; I’m fine with the membership fee in general. I just don’t think that a membership fee of ANY size should be required to vote.

      I suppose the pay-per–student/flexible pay-rate could be a possible solution, and it’s certainly better than the status quo. But I just think it’s wrong for the cost to vote to be anything above the marginal cost of that additional vote (or, I suppose, the average total cost of having a voting system). Since I don’t imagine that cost to be particularly high, it seems improper to me that a school must pay a full $100 registration fee to be eligible to vote, even if it doesn’t want the NFL’s other services.

      • I agree.  Though I feel like the NFL is in the right if it were to charge some sum for voting.  If NFL services were “a la carte” like you say (which I think could be a good idea) then that fee would especially be justified, otherwise several teams will just vote and participate in no other way.  (Other than debating, of course.  But the NFL really only runs two tournaments people could potentially participate in.)

    • Anonymous

      public schools in the northeast dont usually end until late june

      • doubleturn

        This thread is probably dead, but just about every school in Washington and Oregon also graduates around the time of nationals. For us, how bad the conflict is varies from year to year.

  • I agree with both proposals. I also think having the community vote on wording (or at least discuss potential wordings of topics more) would be a good idea. There have been quite a few past resolutions which had great topic lit but bad debates due to poor wording.